Today we’re going to work through creating a “damsel in distress.” But first, I have to clear the air…
Though Insta-NPCs #7: Damsels in Distress has been out for a few months now, there still seems to be some concern over the title. Is it meant to be ironic? Was it *not* meant to be ironic? YES! It was ironic! I was hoping that the multi-gendered cast of characters on the cover would get that across, but some folks were turned off by the whole concept.
Throughout history there have been stories about “damsels” in distress, usually in some misogynistic way. As the husband to one very independent woman who only needs saving when she WANTS to be saved and two young, strong-willed daughters who follow in her footsteps, my goal with this product was NOT to insinuate that ladies are in need of rescue. These days there are just as many guy damsels who get rescued as gals!
This PDF is all about taking the trope – Damsels in Distress – and expanding it in a small way in the modern age to represent a different definition of the phrase. In the terms of this product, a “damsel” is someone or something in need of saving or rescue. This could be a guy or gal, child, animal, monster… anything or anyone.
“…a “damsel” is someone or something in need of saving or rescue…”
So our damsels in this case could be anybody for nearly any reason. That’s the purpose for the product – to explore a trope and expand it beyond its narrow scope to include a more modern array of characters.
Today we’re going to go through that process and see what we can come up with…
First, we determine if we’re dealing with one “damsel” or a group of them… A quick roll of a d4 and a (4) indicates we’re dealing with a group. Since I only want a small group to deal with, we’ll roll another d4 and get a (3). Three damsels.
Now we can roll on the Type and Gender tables to see who these folks are with a couple of d6 rolls each… A (1) Male (1) Child. A (4) Female (1) Child. And a (4) Female (2) Adult. Could be a mother with a couple of kids, but we’ll figure that out as we go along.
Next we can see who caused the trio’s trouble… Another d4 roll gives me a (3) – odd. So the “Who Caused it Table” says the trouble is “Self-created.” They got themselves into whatever trouble they find themselves in.
But what is the Trouble? A d8 roll gives us (3) Family dispute. This might be a marital issue. The wife has taken the two children away from home. Perhaps the mother killed the father in self defense in an abusive relationship and ran with the kids before police arrived…
This is feeling pretty Modern to me, so I’ll roll a d10 on the Modern Locations table to figure out where they’ve run to… (7) Playground. Interesting. We’ll have to see what we do with that or if we re-roll…
Lastly we will figure out what Condition the trio is in and what Trope their story falls in… A d8 on the Condition table gives us (5) Brainwashed. And a d8 on the Trope table gives us (5) Beseiged.
Let’s collect the information we have so far:
- Individual or Group? Group
- Type & Gender? Male child, Female child, Female adult
- Caused by? Self-created
- Trouble? Family dispute
- Location? Playground
- Condition? Brainwashed
- Trope? Beseiged
This collection of details lends me to something along these lines…
“Maggie Howe and her two kids Barry (age 9) and Gracie (age 4) are playing at the playground on a beautiful Spring day. Other than the fact that the mother’s clothes are covered in blood spatter, five police cars have all the exits blocked and the cops were pointing guns at them, it would be a normal afternoon…
Mrs. Howe and her kids are wanted for murder. She killed her husband with a steak knife in the kitchen, then she took her kids to the park like nothing had happened…”
This could be used in a modern game of crime investigation or there could be something more sinister afoot. Perhaps the mother was brainwashed into killing her husband. Or perhaps they were part of a cult and she snapped as part of the mental conditioning process. Or maybe she was in an abusive relationship and she’d had enough.
Whatever it was, there’s some blood to clean up somewhere. Is she a traditional damsel in distress? Maybe not. And I think that’s a good thing!
- Today’s Context: “I need a crisis – someone to rescue or someone in trouble!”
- Today’s Recipe calls for Insta-NPCs #7: Damsels in Distress
- Today’s Ingredients: Group, Male/child;Female/child;Female/adult, Self-created, Family dispute, Playground, Brainwashed, Beseiged
- Today’s Setting: The Modern world – something for a police or detective story